Cover image for Calabash Cat, and his amazing journey
Calabash Cat, and his amazing journey
Rumford, James, 1948-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, [2003]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : illustrations (some color) ; 21 x 27 cm
A Calabash Cat, living in Africa, sets off to see where the world ends.
Reading Level:
AD 710 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.3 0.5 69416.

Reading Counts RC K-2 3.1 1 Quiz: 34202 Guided reading level: L.
Geographic Term:
Electronic Access:
Publisher description
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Childrens Area-Picture Books
X Juvenile Fiction Little Books
X Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
X Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



Calabash Cat, a West African cat, sets out one day to find where the world ends. His adventures take him across a desert, grasslands, a jungle, and the ocean, until he finds what he is looking for.
Illustrated in the style of the calabash engravers of the country of Chad, James Rumford's original tale will keep you thinking long after you have closed the covers of this book--about our one world, and about seeking knowledge and finding wisdom.

Author Notes

Master storyteller James Rumford combines his love for art and history in his picture books. Each of his books is vastly different in its content, design, and illustrations but one aspect remains constant throughout his work: his passion about his subjects. Rumford, a resident of Hawaii, has studied more than a dozen languages and worked in the Peace Corps, where he traveled to Africa, Asia, and Afghanistan. He draws from these experiences and the history of his subject when he is working on a book. His book Sequoyah: The Cherokee Man Who Gave His People Writing was a 2005 Sibert Honor winner.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

K-Gr. 3. In the center of Africa, a cat contemplates the world, wondering where it ends. To find out, he sets off on a journey, encountering various other animals--a camel, a horse, a tiger, and a whale--along the way. Each one gives the cat a ride to the end of the world it knows. Finally, an eagle carries the cat into the sky to show it what none of the others could: a world without end. A final double-page spread shows the cat and the eagle soaring across the sun above a rainbow-bordered earth populated with peacefully coexisting beasts. The heavily stylized illustrations, executed in ink, with darkly outlined shapes filled in with geometric patterns, evoke the gourd art of the Kotoko people of Chad. The text is presented in both English and Chadian Arabic calligraphy, which becomes part of the overall design. A lovely, though message-laden, book, with multigenerational appeal. --Michael Cart Copyright 2003 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 3-Similar in mood and style to Rumford's Traveling Man (Houghton, 2001), this creative offering is geared to a younger audience. Calabash Cat sets out to discover where the world ends. Each time he thinks that he has found his destination, another animal happens along and takes him farther. Riding a camel, a horse, a tiger, and then a whale, he passes through a desert, grasslands, a jungle, and an ocean. Finally, while perched on an eagle's back, he discovers a world without end. Filled with repetition, the enchanting narrative reads like a folktale. The engaging illustrations are deceptively simple. The animals, drawn with heavy black lines and intricate geometric shapes, are made to look like designs burned into a calabash, an art form that is practiced in Chad. A thick line runs through the spreads like a path, changing color with each of the habitats, and all of the hues are brought together at the end to make a rainbow, a striking effect. Even the type setting helps tell the story. Whenever the cat thinks his journey is over, the text is right justified, making a visual stop, and when he continues on, it is centered. A translation in Arabic script appears with each illustration, and an author's note explains the inspiration for this tale. A wonderful choice for reading aloud, offering much fodder for thought and discussion.-Donna Cardon, Provo City Library, UT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.